Applying Moral Principles in Abortion

Autonomy and Paternalism

The role of patient and that of healer, and the implied responsibilities of each, have varied throughout history and in different cultures. In some cultures, decisions regarding “what is best” for the patient are deferred to the healer, who is presumed to know what will bring about healing. Indeed, until the recent years, the physicians are always viewed in this light. Such paternalism has been challenged in recent years, and greater emphasis has been placed on the role and rights of patient self-determination.

The concept of medical paternalism and patient autonomy are two polarized extremes that have so much to do with the decision making for the patient’s recovery with his illness. Nevertheless, decision-making would be so much easier if we all maintained our autonomy in making the decision, however, because our decisions do not always abide by autonomistic values, paternalistic intervention must occur.32

As a reporter in our class about the concepts of autonomy, I personally think that I do understand the idea regarding this particular matter. Autonomy is more like self-governing. The term denotes having the freedom to make choices regarding issues that may affect one’s life. Patients have the right to exercise their autonomy through self-determination. It is also their human right to practice their autonomy and it’s the duty of the health care professionals to respect it.

The other side, paternalism is a gender-biased term that literally means acting in a fatherly manner. The concept of paternalism in the health care arena translates to professionals who restrict others’ autonomy, usually to protect that person from perceived or anticipated harm. It deprives the patient’s rights to choose things freely based on his decisions. The principle of beneficence is always at the back of paternalism.

Although we didn’t discuss about beneficence yet, I would like to talk about this principle because there is no way that we can discuss paternalism without beneficence. The principle of beneficence is one that requires nurses to act in ways that benefit patients.


Do or Promote Good

Prevent Harm

Remove Evil or Harm

Physicians always do what is the best for their patient –what is good for them. “We know what’s best for you even though you may not understand it.” –they know everything which means they know what the best intervention to execute. Paternalism is in place to protect the rights that are in our best interest and that will benefit us in the long run.  Also, it is mainly used in large decisions in people’s lives, decisions that involve high stakes.

In Relation to Biothical Issue

I would like to relate this issue to this bioethical issue. This issue that I chose is about Abortion.

I’ve known about abortion, specifically inevitable abortion, since it is our case study when we were under Ma’am Licaros for our duty in Gat Andres Bonifacio Memorial Medical Center (GABMMC). Our chosen patient is aged 15 years old, not a typical age for a pregnant woman. Yes, indeed, her age is very young to experience this kind of matter. However, her type of abortion is inevitable. That is, the process of expulsion of products of conception has become irreversible. The expulsion of products of conception has not occurred but it is bound to happen and nothing can be done to stop this process.

Going back to the main topic which is abortion or in this case, is the one that is voluntary, let us discover what is the true meaning when we define the word Abortion.

Values in relation to life are fundamental considerations in regard to abortion. Such values include beliefs about when life begins, considerations regarding quality of life for children who are unwanted, and concerns about the mother’s life and health. Some believe that life starts at conception, while others hold that life begins only begins when a fetus is viable outside the womb. Discussions about viability continue to change as technology enables the survival of babies of lower and lower birth weights, and results in saving some imperiled newborns of the same gestational age as some aborted fetuses.

Issues on the mother’s autonomy arise regarding their right to control her body and her life, or their right to choose, in contrast to rights of the unborn fetus to a chance of life or its right to live. The mother has its autonomy to decide for herself and the living creature in her womb. It’s her choice if she will continue the life of her unborn fetus and stop being remorseful to all the things that has happened.

However, there are many pro-life who ban abortion. That is, for the benefit of child and they say that it is wrong to violate the right to live. This situation is a justification that autonomy is violated. I said that if there is paternalism, there is always beneficence or should I say, the promotion of good. Even though not medically, but still paternalistic is present in this situation –violating the right of the mother to choose her preferred action for herself and the fetus in her womb.

Those in the right-to-live camp believe that abortion constitutes murder of an unborn person, suggesting that it is a legal as well as an ethical matter. This has raised questions about role of government in dealing with this ethical concern. Those who hold to the right to choose maintain that the right to privacy regarding health care decisions includes a woman’s reproductive choices, implying that governmental regulation is an infringement on this privacy.

We, as nurses must apply veracity, or the practice of telling the truth. If a confused woman who came for us to have an advice regarding abortion. We must tell them what we think and apply beneficence. We must know the patient’s culture and beliefs. In that way, we can manage to say our own opinion and apply veracity as a moral principle.

As far as my parents taught me, depriving the right to live of a person is a very wrong thing. It is a sin. I am absolutely a pro-life kind of person. As a Christian, I believe that we must consider the life of others. That’s why I do believe that abortion is an immoral act that nobody must commit.

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